Where are your ‘real’ connections? You will be surprised!

Over the years, a number of social mediums have come up to stay connected with our friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, etc, all claim to be repository of all your true, trusted connections. All the people that you know, care and trust are supposed to be there. All the connections are ‘true’ connections. But is that really true?

I did some soul searching — well, not quite literally, but more digitally. I went to facebook — found that I have accepted ‘friend’ request of a large number of people I dont know at all! Well — this happened because I published an article in Times Of India (Indian newspaper) and received a number of friend requests after that. Then I went to LinkedIn — similar story — I have 100’s of connections, but there are probably 25% people that I really know. And next I went to Google+..well, here the list was much smaller, and most people that I really knew — well they were missing here :D

With this insight, I did a small survey with people across geography, across age and gender group and across job functions (students, IT consultants, bankers..) — the results were surprising.

Age and Gender:

What do you use to stay connected with your friends, relatives and colleagues?

How do you reach people that you are not (yet) connected in your network?

which of these captures BEST your real connections (people you are connected with in real life too)?

Which of these has the most updated list of your friends?

Are all your phone book contacts online

Which network do you use for personal reasons such as to find a service?

How often do you ask your friends for someone else’s contact in a week

Around 42% of the respondents reach out to friends to get someone’s number

What kind of contact information do you ask your friend (% of times)?

So what can we summarise from this short survey?

  1. Phone Address book has our most updated and trusted source of connections
  2. Phone Address book is the real residence of our trusted connection. If someone is in our address book — then the trust factor for that connection is much higher compared to a connection in LinkedIn or Facebook
  3. Not all our connections are online. A large number of our connections are still offline (think parents, service providers, etc). This is more true for developing countries like India
  4. We use our offline network connection more than our online connections to get connected to people, services etc.
  5. While we have a lot of connections on FB and LinkedIn, the trust factor on the offline connection represented by the Phone address book is much higher
  6. There is a big opportunity to move the offline/phone connection to online to help discovery while maintaining the trust factor

Based on these results, I started a new app called CLinkR — the connection Linker. It forms a new network based on phone contacts and helps people discover and connect with trusted contacts. CLinkR helps you find shared trusted connections and references. Just type in the persons name or phone number and clinkr will show the shared connection. Now you can get more reference about the person by calling your friend, or by connecting with the person. Discovery and validation became a little simpler.

So next time you are looking for a trusted service provider, you should reach out to CLinkR.